The Examination

The examination texts and topics are set in the context of international business. Materials used in the BEC suite of examinations relate to the areas of language use given below. The coverage of the topics is spread across the four components (Listening, Speaking, Reading, Writing) of each examination.

In general terms, the topic areas are similar for each level, but a greater range of linguistic knowledge and degree of skill are required as the levels progress. Note, however, that certain topics will be more prevalent at certain levels, e.g. socialising and personal details will occur more frequently at BEC Preliminary level.

Topic Areas

Personal identification

Greeting people and responding to greetings / Introducing oneself and other people / Asking for and giving personal details (name, occupation, etc.) /  Asking about and describing jobs and responsibilities / Asking about and describing a company and its organisation / Completing forms with personal or company details / Understanding and writing letters and emails which give personal details

The office, general business environment and routine

Arranging and re-arranging appointments and meetings / Planning future events and tasks / Confirming or changing plans / Asking for and giving permission /  Giving and receiving instructions / Predicting and describing future possibilities / Asking for and giving opinions: agreeing and disagreeing / Making, accepting and rejecting suggestions or recommendations / Justifying decisions and past actions / Understanding office communications (reports, letters, emails, memos, etc.)

Entertainment of clients, free time, relationships with colleagues and clients

Discussing interests and leisure activities / Inviting, accepting and refusing offers and invitations / Thanking and expressing appreciation / Welcoming a foreign visitor / Talking about own region/country

Travel and meetings / Using the telephone / Making enquiries, reservations, orders and conference bookings / Giving and interpreting numerical data, common abbreviations and acronyms (as used in international business) / Exchanging information / Taking messages

Health and safety

Understanding health and safety rules in the workplace / Understanding instructions and notices

Buying and selling

Understanding prices and delivery dates / Making and accepting offers / Making agreements / Negotiating contracts

Company structures, systems, processes

Presenting and describing company structures and processes / Exchanging information on company facilities / Understanding and explaining a company's production, ordering and delivery systems / Understanding and explaining manufacturing processes / Understanding and describing processes in one's company (including staff selection, promotion, appraisal, etc.) / Asking about and explaining errors

Products and services

Describing and presenting products / Advertising, branding and product promotion / Launching a product / Trade fairs / Transport, distribution and suppliers / Asking for and giving information about a product or service

Results and achievements

Making and receiving complaints / Customer support / Apologising and accepting apologies / Describing and explaining company background, performance results, trends, events and changes

Business issues

Understanding and talking about general business topics, such as management skills, promotional strategies, training courses, conferences, business services, recruitment, rewarding staff, sponsorship, business premises, company budgets, use of IT in business etc.

Other topic areas

A number of other topic areas of general interest, such as food and drink, education (training courses), consumer goods, shopping and prices, current events, places, weather, etc. may occur.

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